Photo © James and Karla Murray for 6sqft
After the third suicide in less than a year was reported at the Vessel this week, the 150-foot climbable structure has temporarily closed. On Monday, a 21-year-old man from Texas jumped to his death from the bronzed steel and concrete sculpture. Hudson Yards developer Related Companies is now looking to address ways to prevent future tragedies at the Manhattan site, as Patch first reported.
Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the interactive public art piece opened in March 2019 as the centerpiece of the $25 billion Hudson Yards mega-development. The honeycomb-shaped Vessel contains a one-mile “vertical climbing experience” across 154 interconnected flights of stairs and 2,500 individual steps.
The January 11 death comes just weeks after a 24-year-old Brooklyn woman died by suicide from jumping from the Vessel on Dec. 21. In February 2020, police reported that a 19-year-old man from New Jersey also jumped from the Vessel, marking the first suicide at the site.
In March of last year, Community Board 4 sent a letter to Related asking them the steps they are taking to prevent “terribly sad loss of life” at the Vessel, beyond the addition of security guards.
In the letter, board members Lowell Kern and Jean Daniel Noland cited a critique of the Vessel from the Architect Newspaper’s Audrey Wachs. In December 2016, Wachs wrote: “As one climbs up Vessel, the railings stay just above waist height all the way up to the structure’s top, but when you build high, folks will jump.”
“Further steps” must be considered, Kern and Noland wrote to the developer, calling for the barriers of the Vessel to be raised. “Because the Vessel’s chest-high barrier is all that separates the platform from the edge, the likelihood of a similar, terribly sad loss of life cannot be ignored,” Kern and Noland wrote to Related.
“These experts will surely point out that while it is true that ultimately nothing can stop a person determined to find a way to harm themselves, it is also true that installing adequate physical barriers on high places can prevent or substantially reduce suicides, especially impulsive ones,” they wrote.
A spokesperson for Related told the New York Post that they are currently working with psychiatrists and suicide-prevention experts to develop a plan to prevent any future suicides.
But the board said it will continue to push specifically for the height of the barriers to be increased, as the New York Times reported. “After three suicides, at what point does the artistic vision take a back seat to safety?” Kern said in an interview with the newspaper.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Neighborhoods : hudson yards